Friday 24 November 2017

Altobridge chief steps aside as company shifts focus

'WINGMAN': Mike Fitzgerald
'WINGMAN': Mike Fitzgerald

Roisin Burke

The Tralee-based international tech company where former Tanaiste Dick Spring is a director has appointed a new chief executive in place of longtime boss and company founder Mike Fitzgerald.

Altobridge, where Intel is a major shareholder, has appointed former Smartforce boss Brendan O'Sullivan to head the company as it moves in a new direction.

"There have been rumours," Mike Fitzgerald acknowledged, when asked about suggestions that Intel had been unhappy about how Altobridge was hitting, or not hitting, its targets – an assertion that he rejects.

"It's not Intel's policy to dictate to boards and management," he said. "It is supporting us hand in hand."

"We've evolved into a software-licensing business over the last 12 months," he said. "I'm a networks guy, and because of that, we said 'let's find someone who excels at that area'.

"Brendan is one of the most reputable Irish company chief executives. I'm not leaving, but he will be the boss and I'll be his wingman, working in partnership with him on business development. It was a board decision.

"Brendan also has public company experience," he added, with an eye on the firm's longer-term prospects.

"We're fighting massive competition against two major Chinese telecoms companies. Revenues and targets are always a challenge and we set challenging goals.

"This is not about people or egos, it's about shareholder value and getting that back to them. I'm a board member and I'm not going anywhere."

Altobridge recently clinched a valuable deal with China's main internet content provider, ChinaCache. It has operation bases in the US, China and Malaysia.

It is also collaborating with former Sunderland boss Niall Quinn's QSat in East Africa.

It raised €4.4m in its last funding round, including Intel's private equity arm and the World Bank. Among the other shareholders are Declan and Shane Ryan, sons of late Ryanair founder Tony Ryan, Domhnal Slattery's Claret Capital and construction firm John Sisk & Son.

Sunday Independent

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